Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Thoona feels heat as power cut

Power company maintenance takes place on day where temperature rises to 40 degrees Celsius.

ALEXANDRA BOLKAS January 15, 2014 4:55am

Thoona resident David Belcher, 65, next to a temperature gauge registering yesterday's 40 degrees Celsius heat.

As searing heat bore down on Thoona yesterday morning, the town’s main street was deserted and its pub and general store closed.

There was no sign of life as the residents, taking shelter from the sweltering temperatures, appeared to be indoors with their blinds drawn.

But unlike towns across Victoria battling the 40°C heat with blasting airconditioners and flowing water, Thoona was without power.

Electricity company SP Ausnet turned off power to the town north-east of Benalla just before 7am so planned works on eight damaged power poles could be completed.

‘‘We had a crew of 40 people replacing eight power poles in the area,’’ SP Ausnet spokesman Jonathon Geddes said yesterday.

Mr Geddes said the work was critical maintenance that had to be carried out despite hot weather.

‘‘We have to procede with essential bushfire mitigation maintenance such as pole replacement due to potential safety risks,’’ he said.

He said 300 customers in the town and its surrounds were affected.

Mr Geddes said the outage, scheduled from 8.30am to 4pm, was brought forward by two hours to ensure customers had power for the day’s peak temperatures. Customers were sent letters two weeks ago informing them of the outage, but Mr Geddes said a text message explaining the new outage time was sent on Monday night.

Power was returned to the town just before noon yesterday.

SP Ausnet rolled out 15 outages across eastern Victoria affecting about 600 customers.

Victorian Acting Premier Peter Ryan yesterday said his office had spoken to SP Ausnet regarding the maintenance works.

‘‘They are very aware of the current prevailing circumstances and have changed their works program to accommodate the difficult position we face here today,’’ Mr Ryan said.

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